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Coffee House

Can the Wizard of Oz solve the Tories’ 2015 problem?

17 November 2012

12:49 PM

17 November 2012

12:49 PM

How is David Cameron planning to get re-elected? If he couldn’t win a majority against Gordon Brown in 2010 then why should he do so much better after five years of flat growth and shrinking living standards? The Police Commissioner elections have been another reminder that, for all their other merits, the Cameroons are not very good at fighting elections. So what to do? James Forsyth reveals their strategy in his political column this week: the  40+40 strategy. It involves love-bombing 20 LibDems out of their seats. But how to make this strategy work?

At present, Lynton Crosby is the obvious solution to avoid history repeating itself. He’s the Australian mastermind behind Boris Johnson’s two victories in London. Janan Ganesh’s new biography of George Osborne offers a good précis of Crosby’s contribution to Michael Howard’s doomed 2005 campaign:

‘Crosby’s performance in the second of these missions still evokes unprompted praise from veterans of the 2005 campaign. He established a clear chain of command at CCO, which he renamed Conservative Campaign HQ, with himself at the summit. He clearly delineated roles for the rest of the staff, deftly managed myriad personalities and took decisions quickly, firmly and under intense pressure.

‘He was, in short, exactly what the Conservatives would lack in their next general election campaign five years later.’

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But the Tories have yet to sign him. James revealed recently that the stumbling block is control, not cost. However, as he explained in this week’s podcast, negotiations are still ongoing:

‘I understand there will be a meeting later this month in which George Osborne, Steven Gilbert and Andrew Cooper to sit down with Lynton to see if some kind of command structure for the campaign could be worked out that would be mutually agreeable to everyone.’

‘Lynton’s style of politics is very very different to David Cameron’s. I can see the theory of getting him involved, he’s the closest this country has got to a professional campaigner…but his is a very simple, very focused and in some ways brutal campaign-style, which is utterly at odds with the more touchy-feely emotive brand of David Cameron’s. I can’t quite see how Lynton Crosby sells David Cameron’

But of not the Wizard of Oz then: who? The results in yesterday’s elections demonstrate the Tories still have a public perception problem, which is particularly concerning as law and order should have been their stronger suit. for them. Bringing in Crosby would at least provide structure and substance to the Tories’ 2015 plans. Boris Johnson recently urged the 1922 committee of backbenchers to ‘break the piggy bank…they should kill the fatted cow, calf, I mean’ in order to bring in Lynton.’ At this stage, Cameron & Co appear to have little other choice if they want to stand a chance in 2015.

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